Prime Minister Theresa May today announced a surprise general election, to be held on 8 June. Here’s how leading voices and organisations from the world of grocery have reacted to the news.
Association of Convenience Stores
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The election will be an opportunity for all parties to set out in manifesto pledges how they intend to support local shops in the next parliamentary term. Firstly, it is essential that action is taken to reform the business rates system and help retailers to invest. We’re also keen to ensure that environmental issues are addressed through effective policies to reduce waste that don’t overburden local shops, and believe that extending the carrier bag charge to all retailers would be a beneficial, simple and effective solution.
“We do not believe that the minimum wage and living wage rates should be used as a bargaining tool to gain votes at the expense of hard working entrepreneurs and community businesses, and will encourage all parties to allow the Low Pay Commission to lead an independent process of setting wage rates.”
British Beer & Pub Association
BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds said: “The debate around Brexit will be centre-stage, and we will be highlighting the key issues facing the sector. In the hospitality industry, we need to continue to attract those with the right skills, and keep trade with our neighbours as free as possible. Brexit also presents an opportunity to encourage the new Government towards a more favourable tax regime, especially for beer duty. We will not hesitate to use the election to highlight both the challenges and the opportunities for brewing and pubs.”
Farmers’ Union of Wales
FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We have long been calling for the creation of a post-Brexit UK agricultural framework and we know discussions between UK and Welsh Government have been frustratingly slow. The timing of this election will do nothing to aid progress in establishing a UK framework for agriculture and we therefore urge the Westminster Government not to ignore the critical issues at hand. As the independent voice for Welsh farming, the FUW we will of course continue to remind all parties about the importance of the rural economy and why #FarmingMatters and is actively going to engage with candidates about the future of agriculture in the coming weeks.The Union will shortly release its own general election manifesto outlining our expectations and will work throughout the campaign to ensure MPs understand that the future of the rural economy must be a national priority, now and in the years to come.”
Food and Drink Federation
Ian Wright CBE, Director General at the Food and Drink Federation, said: “Alongside national security, any Government’s primary duty is to ensure that the nation has access to safe, affordable and nutritious food and drink so our country can continue to prosper. Over the next six weeks all those who aspire to form the next Government have a duty to spell out in very clear terms their vision for the nation’s food and farming policy for the post Brexit generation.
“We look forward to a proper public debate on those ideas. As the voice of the UK’s food and drink manufacturers, FDF is ready to play its part. We will work with the new Government and with our friends in farming, food retailing, and the out of home sector to ensure that outside the EU the United Kingdom has the vibrant and diverse food industry which UK consumers expect and deserve. Part of this process will involve creating an industrial strategy partnership that supports growth and productivity in our sector, ensuring we retain our world-class reputation and competitive advantage internationally.”
Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, said: “As politicians have started to gear up for another general election, Dairy UK is calling on politicians across the spectrum to stand up for dairy – an industry which is vital to Britain’s economy, environment as well as the nation’s diet. The UK dairy industry has tremendous potential on the domestic and international stage and it is in the interests of consumers and the many thousands of people who work in the industry that we operate and produce nutritious foods in the best possible business climate.
“With Brexit negotiations ahead, there are challenges and opportunities and we hope that the UK government and the devolved administrations remain firmly committed to vigorously supporting one of the nation’s great industries.”
National Farmers Union
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “With farming arguably the sector most impacted by Brexit, NFU members will want to understand how each of the political parties plans to support profitable, productive and progressive agriculture and horticulture in the future. The right post-Brexit trade deal is absolutely critical but equally well so is a new wider policy framework that better delivers for farming and the nation.
“Throughout the next seven weeks the NFU will ensure that all parties fully understand and engage with the food and farming community on the issues facing the sector both now and post-Brexit. British farms currently grow the raw ingredients for the UK food and drink manufacturing sector worth £108 billion and moreover the public want to continue to buy British food. For that to happen it’s vital that candidates recognise the enormous contribution that agriculture makes - for every £1 invested, farming delivers £7.40 back to this country – and to back British farming.”
ParcelHero’s head of consumer research David Jinks said: ‘We welcome the announcement of a General Election for 8 June; as uncertainty is the most difficult problem facing UK exporters. Whatever the result, we are likely to get a clearer idea of how Brexit will develop; and that’s better for British business. If the Conservatives’ bold call succeeds, it will strengthen their hands in the forthcoming negotiations. It is encouraging for EU trade talks that Theresa May emphasised our “deep and special partnership” with the EU. Additionally, we welcome her statement that the UK would be ‘free to strike trade deals with old friends and new partners all around the world’.
”Conversely, if the opposition parties unite to form a potential Labour – Liberal – SNP alliance, this would enable the revisiting of the Brexit debate. While a re-run of the entire Referendum is unlikely, there may well be a greater emphasis on a soft Brexit: with compromises on immigration and other issues in order to ensure Britain remains part of the Single Market. This would eliminate exporters concerns over the impact of potential duties and taxes, not to mention long delays, at EU borders.’
”The lack of ability to plan ahead is bad for British business; a snap General Election is likely to resolve many uncertainties facing UK exporters far more swiftly than long negotiations by a Government with a thin majority would have done. Whatever the colour of the party taking control after 8 June, British businesses will win from the snap election.”
Tenant Farmers Association
TFA Chief Executive George Dunn said “Today’s surprise announcement, assuming that it is endorsed by Parliament tomorrow, ushers in a further period of uncertainty at a time when we need to be putting in place the policy frameworks required for a post EU Britain. However, we are where we are and politicians from all shades of the political spectrum must show leadership in the forthcoming campaign by allowing constructive debate to enable the British people to make an informed choice when they go to the polls on 8 June.
“In a world which is becoming increasingly more insecure both through the rise of global terrorism and the straining of international relationships, is certainly time to look again at the need to increase our self-sufficiency in food as a nation. This is only heightened by the fact that we want high standards of production in relation to the environment, animal welfare and consumer safety which cannot be guaranteed by a greater reliance upon imported products. Whatever the makeup of the next UK administration it must not underestimate the need to ensure that it has a forward looking, comprehensive programme for British agriculture which protects it against unfair competition both at home and abroad, builds resilience and supports it to produce the wider benefits enjoyed by all for which there is no market return.”